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We know how Madeleine McCann died: German prosecutors make grim revelation as paedophile suspect Christian Brueckner's decades-long criminal history is exposed – including sexual abuse of children when he was 17

German prosecutors today revealed they believe Madeleine McCann is dead and know how she was murdered without finding her body at it was revealed their paedophile prime suspect has 17 convictions and began abusing ‘little girls’ as a teenager. 

Christian Brueckner, 43, spent 12 years living on the Algarve and was jailed last year for raping a 72-year-old American tourist in Praia da Luz just 18 months before Maddie was snatched from her bed on May 3, 2007.

Brueckner, who is serving seven years in Kiel jail in northern Germany for the sex attack, was shopped to the police by a friend after he confessed during a drinking session that he ‘knew all about’ what had happened to her, MailOnline can reveal today.

His alleged admission to a friend about Maddie’s abduction came over a drink on the tenth anniversary of her disappearance when her face appeared on the German pub’s TV screen in 2017. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.

The confidant went to the police but after three years of investigations have gone public with extraordinary detail about his paedophile past and a 10,000 euro reward after failing to gather enough evidence to charge him with Maddie’s murder.

Detectives have said they believe that he used a VW campervan he was living in to spirit the three-year-old away after snatching her from her bed, but after shipping the vehicle to Germany they have not found any of Maddie’s DNA inside, according to Sky News. 

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told a press conference today: ‘We think that Madeleine McCann is dead and are appealing for witnesses. The 43 year old suspect is a multiple sexual predator already convicted of crimes against little girls’. 

Mr Wolters said police had determined the method used to kill Miss McCann, but no body has ever been found. Scotland Yard is still treating Madeleine as missing rather than murdered.

News magazine Spiegel today revealed that Brueckner has 17 convictions in Germany for child abuse and child pornography offences, driving without a licence, assault, burglary, theft and drink driving. 

Brueckner’s first burglary was in his home town of Wurzburg, Bavaria, in 1992, when he was 15. He was also given a two-year youth sentence in 1994 for sexually abusing a child when he himself was a 17-year-old. 

The German then emigrated to Portugal where he lived for 12 years and was never arrested despite dealing drugs, robbing tourists and burgling holiday homes and robbing tourists and was jailed last year for the rape of a 72-year-old American in same resort just 18 months before the British three-year-old vanished on May 3, 2007. 

He planned the rape having broken into the victim’s house wearing a mask and armed with a rope to tie her to a wooden beam. She was blindfolded, gagged and whipped with a piece of metal before being raped and robbed – but hairs left at the scene later linked him to the crime. She told the police: ‘He enjoyed torturing me’.

He denied the attack but friends had gone to police saying that videos of him raping other women had ‘fallen into their hands’ and they were in no doubt that they were ‘real scenes’, the court heard. 

The sex attack on the 72-year-old woman could be significant because the convicted paedophile had broken into her Praia da Luz holiday home to loot it – police have long believed Maddie may have been snatched during a burglary.

As detectives in Germany said Maddie’s case was being treated as murder, but the Met said it remains a missing persons inquiry, it also emerged today:

  • Portuguese police face serious questions as it is revealed that the man who may have taken Maddie spent 12 years in Portugal before her disappearance committing serious sexual and drugs crimes without ever being arrested; 
  • German police were told about his bar chat about Maddie with a friend in 2017 – but three years on have finally confirmed he is a suspect;
  • His VW campervan and Jaguar have been located by police who believe one or both were  – but a lack of DNA evidence means a 10,000 euro reward has been put up for any information that leads to his conviction.
  • Portuguese detective says ‘Christian B’ was dismissed as a suspect in 2008 – but a discussion ‘years later’ on an online forum about Maddie and her abduction was brought to the attention of police;
  • Her parents Gerry and Kate McCann have not given up hope that their daughter is alive but are ‘realistic’ that she might not be, their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said today;
  • Downing Street said the latest developments appeared to be significant and added that Number 10’s thoughts were with the McCann family ‘who have had to endure so much’. 

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